I thought my phone case could use a little dressing up so I added a belted kingfisher. It looks a little odd when opened up and laid flat. Closed it works as 2 images with the bird on the front and its habitat on the back. The case has a sealed finish so it doesn’t lend itself to this kind of process. I did add a layer of varnish but the act of opening and closing the phone case regularly means this decorative detail won’t last very long. I have a tendency to paint random objects on a whim. Permanency isn’t factored in as it’s just for fun.
This crow study was completed in my small (5 1/2 by 8 in) sketchbook. Rather than using a pigment (ink) pen this image was rendered with a brush, Speedball Super Pigmented Acrylic Ink, and acrylic paint. Using a brush with the acrylic ink allows for the opportunity to make a variety of marks without changing tools. The super black ink is highly opaque when undiluted but I also used it as a wash here to create different tones. I opted to work from dark to light and layered acrylic paint on top of the ink to flesh out the image.
It’s common to find old implements at yard sales and second hand stores in my area. They can be oil covered or rusty so prep work is required before they can be painted. I bought this saw from a second hand charity shop. It was rusty so I sanded it and applied a coat of Tremclad rust primer to create a sealed base coat. The barn owl is painted in acrylic. It’s a bit stylized which I think is a good approach for a found object painting. To finish I applied a spray coat of Krylon varnish to the blade to protect the painting from scratches. I left the handle alone as I like the worn condition left from actual use. It’s a bit of an odd object to photograph so I opted to hang it on plant hook in my back yard to get a full length picture. I’ve included a closer look below as well with a bit less of the background.
This 12 inch square piece is acrylic on board. I combined imagery sourced from my collection of photographs to create the narrative.
This is the first time I’ve attempted something figurative on such a small scale. I’m not sure if it’s something I will repeat. Because the picture above is a close up cropped image you can get a good sense of the elements but viewing the piece from a distance (as in the un-cropped photo below) I feel like a bit of that is lost because of the size.
That said I don’t feel the piece is unsuccessful. I did establish a solid narrative theme, which was my original intent, as well as learned a bit about the ins and outs of working smaller.
My house was built circa 1910. Being a lath and plaster construct, it wasn’t insulated. The people who owned it before us installed blown insulation in the walls and attic. At that time most of the attic flooring was removed leaving a few planks to walk on and a couple of smaller cuts lying around. I’m not sure what kind of wood the flooring is but I’m of the mind that it might be hemlock. The portion I used to create this piece has a lovely rich colour along with some interesting dings and scratches. Neither the bottom or top are cut even. It’s an odd fifteen-ish inches high and a smidgen under one inch deep. It is tongue and groove but the groove side was snapped off (it’s still a foot across though). It’s not “pretty” but those are my favourite kind of found objects to use. They have their own history and that added element enriches the final piece.
I’ve not been lucky enough to photograph a Great Grey Owl so I went online to research my subject. I didn’t draw from any single source but rather found inspiration in a variety of places. I noticed that owls exhibit consistent perching behaviour no matter the breed or environment so that determined the composition. I used a layer of matte varnish to seal the wood before I started painting. This juvenile Great Great Owl, painted with acrylic and somewhat stylized, is all about the brushwork. Building from dark to light I fashioned shape and substance with layers of small brushstrokes making no attempt to blend or smooth them out. I wanted the image to retain the unique properties of the wood surface. To that end, although there are multiple layers of paint it’s not so thick as to hide the texture of the wood allowing it to be seen through the brushstrokes.
The bridge on Brouwers Line is located just outside the Archie Coulter Conservation Area. The conservation area stretches for 133 acres along the west branch of Catfish Creek. This piece is based on a photograph I took whilst visiting the site a couple of years ago. The first scan is the work in progress as a pigment pen drawing. The second is the piece finished with water colour.
This watercolour sketch is based on a photograph I took a couple of summers ago. An enormous toad would come out after dark and sit on the back patio. He was a bit of a stoic chunky bumpy blob who couldn’t be bothered to move even as I took a couple of flash photos. I started the sketch by keeping a light hand layering in the background and basic shape. When those sections were dry I added a bit more character using the accent of darker markings.
The lighthouse on Pelee Island was originally built in 1833 and then restored in 2000. I based this watercolour sketch on a photo I took of the lighthouse when I was hiking on the island* in the summer of 2009. The lighthouse is bordered on three sides by water. I remember walking up the shoreline to see the lighthouse rising through the summer greenery. It looked like something from a fairy tale. That memory came into play as I worked on this piece leading me to use organic shapes and lines along with softer edges in an attempt to capture a sort of whimsical storybook feel.
*The lighthouse is located in the Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve which is a non-operating park. There aren’t any facilities but it is open to the public for hiking, swimming, birdwatching, photography…etc.
A number of years ago I worked for a giftware company bulk painting folk art items for retail. It was piece work so the more pieces you painted the more money you made. It wasn’t particularly challenging for technique. The pieces had to be simple so they could be mass produced but I did pick up some nifty tricks (floating, double loading, tole patterning) that are fun to revisit every once in awhile. I’m crafty keen about Christmas. I make my own fresh evergreen planters, decorative wreaths, and ornaments.
Ornament creation is a great activity to incorporate some of those folk techniques. I usually use whatever things I have lying around. I work with low viscosity (craft/folk art) paint and I don’t finish varnish. The two ornaments hanging from the lights on either side of the fireplace were made with some old plywood odds and ends. The figures are intended to look as if they’re parachuting down into Christmas.
They’re probably not what you would traditionally think of as ornaments because they’re quite large.
Here’s a closer look at the Jester in a Box whilst hung to provide a better idea of the scale.
I used metallic string to join the two pieces in a fun way.
These ornaments have much more detail than any of the bulk work I did whilst painting giftware.
Looking at the back it’s easier to see just how rough the scrap plywood is (I only sanded the cut sides) but I like that for these pieces. It’s an approach that falls into that homespun handmade feel that I associate with Christmas.
Sticky, humid, and bug filled days worked as a bit of encouragement to spend more time inside over the summer. This sketchbook selection was sourced from a photograph I took in the spring several years ago. It’s pretty common around here to find Dutchman’s breeches spreading out on the woodland floor pushing aside last year’s fallen leaves. The underlying drawing was created using a Staedler pigment liner and a Pigma Graphic ink pen. I used acrylic paint to finish the piece. Because I was working inside I was able to do a couple of scans of the work in progress.